The trade body representing bailiffs, CIVEA, is to transfer the administration of complaints against its members to Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman from June 1, 2019.
The conduct of bailiffs has been the subject intense scrutiny by ministers and debt advice charities, which have been seeking an overhaul of bailiff regulations.
Figures produced by the debt advice charities say show that a third (850,000) of the 2.2 million people contacted by a bailiff in the last two years experienced them pushing the limits of the law - such as by removing goods needed for work.
Those figures are vigorously disputed by CIVEA. It says it reviews around 250 complaints each year and in a survey it conducted, 22 enforcement firms processed approximately 2,500 cases between 2014 and 2018. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman upheld just 50 complaints in the last four years where the bailiffs themselves were at fault.
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of CIVEA, said: “These changes will streamline the process for complaints redress. The expertise and independent adjudication of the ombudsman gives an impartial picture of the scale of any problems in our industry. Three trade associations, local authorities, the courts service, the Local Authority Civil Enforcement Forum and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman have all recorded low levels of complaints.”
Michael King, chief executive of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “We already provide independent redress for complaints about the recovery of local taxation and parking debts by enforcement agents. Where a firm is acting on behalf of a local authority, their actions fall within our jurisdiction.
“Clear routes of redress are all the more important for people who want to raise concerns about debt issues they are facing, so we strongly believe complaints processes should be accessible, easy to understand and simple to use.”